Virginia is Compounding Covid-19 Costs with GND-Style Programs

Virginia is Compounding Covid-19 Costs with GND-Style Programs

June 8, 2020

Many Virginia residents, much like the rest of the country, are still reeling from Covid-19 and its economic impact. In fact, since the pandemic started, Virginia has experienced a 4,706% increase in unemployment claims – the fourth highest increase in the country. Still, Governor Northam (D-VA) continues to promote renewable energy mandates and restrictions that will increase Virginians’ financial burden.

Northam recently signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, creating renewable standards that, for example, require energy and power companies to be 100% carbon-free by 2045. The new law also says that almost all of the state’s coal-fired power plants must be closed by 2024. Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, was quoted in The Daily Signal stating:

The Democratic-controlled Legislature and the governor hid behind the coronavirus pandemic to sneak Green New Deal-type schemes into law that will dramatically increase energy prices for all Virginians. Gov. Northam continues to rely on flawed models and cites questionable evidence in support of this government makeover of Virginia’s electricity options.

Virginia also recently passed the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, which positions it to join a multistate “cap and trade” program limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In July, when budgetary restrictions put in place by Virginia Republicans expire, The Northam administration is likely to begin reworking regulations to accommodate the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and prepare Virginia to become a full member in 2021. Within ten years, this initiative could cost ratepayers between $3.3 and $5.9 billion.

Randy Randol, who analyzes energy and environmental issues for the Virginia Tea Party, describes the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as a regressive tax on the “most economically depressed areas of Virginia,” since it will cut into disposable incomes.

All of this economic sacrifice would produce effectively no environmental benefits, too. Kevin Dayaratna, a research fellow and principal statistician at The Heritage Foundation, concluded:

In Virginia, even assuming an overly sensitive climate, policies such as RGGI will result in the most insignificant temperature reductions. Even if CO2 from fossil fuels were completely eliminated in the state of Virginia, the state would notice less than 0.004 degree Celsius temperature reduction by 2100.

Proponents of the Green New Deal have long used selective research to justify increased costs. A Power the Future study recently found that the radical proposal would cost a typical household at least $74,000 in the first year of implementation, and at least $40,000 every year after that. Particularly now, as America navigates its recovery from Covid-19, no household can afford that kind of cost. We need to rely on practical policies and financially protect Americans during this time of uncertainty. Unfortunately, Virginia is placing its priorities elsewhere – hopefully, other states don’t make the same mistake.